Monday, August 18, 2014

Commentary Romans Chapter 10:1-17

The blog post is longer than usual. Instead of being 500 - 750 words it is almost 1700 words, but it is important to read.

It is important to understand that Romans chapters nine, ten, and eleven are a parenthetical explanation of why Israel, who had been given the Law and the Prophets, had missed out on the gospel and Jesus, and further, why the gentiles, were now experiencing the grace of God and were receiving the benefit of the gospel when they had not served God at all in the past.
Even though the explanation is for the Jews, those of us who are Gentiles can benefit greatly from an understanding of these three chapter passages. For my purposes, I want to focus on chapter ten, verses one through seventeen at this time and will perhaps deal with chapters nine and eleven later on.
Rom 10:1-21 KJV  Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.  (2)  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. First we see that being zealous for God is not enough. The zeal has to be accompanied by knowledge.What was it that they lacked knowledge of? Paul answers in the next verse. 
(3)  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Paul has spent the first eight chapters telling about the difference between law righteousness, righteousness that comes from obeying the law, and the righteousness of God which is a righteousness imputed for having faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He says above that they have been so focused on establishing righteousness by legal means that they have ignored and not submitted to the righteousness of God which is righteousness from faith apart from the law and law obedience.
 (4)  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth. Christ Jesus is the goal/end of the Law for righteousness. In other words, since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the only way to establish righteousness is to believe the gospel. Paul had proved in the first eight chapters that even in the Old Covenant, all who were righteous were righteous because of their faith, and for no other reason. No one is righteous because of adherence to a legal code.
(5)  For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. Here Paul is quoting Lev 18:5. He is acknowledging the reason that the Jews would believe that they could attain to righteousness from obeying the law. There is another passage that would lead the Jews to believe that they could attain to righteousness from obeying the law. Deu 6:25 KJV  “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.”
(6)  But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)  (7)  Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)  (8)  But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; Now Paul shifts gears. He quotes the passage of Deut 30 that speaks of the days of the New Covenant when Israel will have their heart circumcised by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The passage that he refers to is Deu 30:1-6. Deu 30:1 explains that there will be a future time when Israel will have experienced both the blessings and the cursing’s of Deu 28 and makes reference to circumcising the heart. It is prophesied in Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26. Paul is saying that Deu 30:1-6 finds it fulfillment in the word of faith that they are preaching… in other words, the gospel. 
(9)  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  (10)  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (11)  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.  (12)  For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  (13)  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. In verse 9-13 Paul explains explicitly what the word they preach is. The contents of the word of faith is stated in Romans 10:9-13; Confess with the mouth and believe in the heart; that is the condition set by Paul. Written above then, is a concise statement of the gospel. One must confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead. This is a redemptive decree. It states unequivocally that if one confesses with the mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believes in one’s heart that God has raised him from the dead, one SHALL be saved. 
(14)  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  (15)  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! In this well-known passage it is obvious that Paul’s complete focus is the gospel of Christ. He only mentions preaching in conjunction with the gospel. Preach, preaching, or preached is found in 127 verses in the New Testament and it is mentioned 134 times in those verses and it is ONLY and ALWAYS referenced with the gospel. It is used no other way. According to the New Testament writings there is no other purpose for preaching except to preach the gospel. 
(16)  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  (17)  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Here Paul quotes Isaiah 53:1. He wants his readership to understand that he is solely speaking of the gospel. It is very important to see Romans 10:17 is saying that faith cometh by hearing the gospel. It is definitely not saying what so many popularly teach. Faith does not come from just any ole preaching of the scripture. Faith only comes from preaching the gospel. Jesus and his first century followers changed the meaning of the phrase word of God from Torah to gospel. Jesus taught a uniquely redemptive purpose to the scripture. This is plainly proclaimed in John 5:39-40 and Luke 24:27; 43-45. In the past, I have issued a challenge, to take all of the verses in the New Testament with the phrase word of God in them, and to substitute either scripture or gospel in place of the phrase. When one does that it is easy to see that their meaning in using the phrase was gospel or Jesus the living gospel and not scripture. Again, please do not think that I am downplaying the scripture or its inspired status. I am not. I am rather showing the extent that Jesus taught his followers to go to in emphasizing and underscoring the redemptive purpose of the scripture.
With this in mind let’s turn our attention to Romans 10:17. In the KJV it reads, “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” So then, let me ask the question; did Paul mean that faith cometh by hearing scripture or gospel? Well, when you look at it in context it becomes rather obvious that he meant the gospel. The sentence could easily be stated that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the gospel of Christ.
Let’s take a look at this verse in some of the new versions of the scripture.
NASB “Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
HCSB “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.”
ESV “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Why is that so? The answer is that there are a number of original Greek texts from which the translations are made, and further there are many variations within those texts. Some say word of God and some say word of Christ. The Byzantine Text or Textus Receptus which the KJV was translated from says word of God, but the Westcott Hort and the Nestle-Aland say word of Christ. The Greek is as follows: It is the rhematos christou (word of Christ) or the (rhematos theou) the word of God.
When one realizes that the first century apostles meant the gospel or the word of Christ when they wrote word of God it becomes less of a problem. The newer versions call it the word of Christ because the translating scholars believe that it is far more likely that the original scripture had the word of Christ in Romans 10:17. I believe that the original text could have had the word of God there but I have proven beyond doubt that in most cases in the New Testament, and in ALL cases from the book of Acts forward they meant gospel or Jesus the living gospel when they wrote the phrase word of God.
It does have interesting implications that go against the common explanation of this verse. Faith does not come from hearing just any ole scripture passage. Faith comes by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since rhematos (a variation of rhema) more rightly means spoken word, it would suggest that faith cometh by hearing the spoken word of Christ.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Law of Love

John 13:34-35 KJV “ A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  (35)  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Rom 13:8 KJV  “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Jas 2:8 KJV  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:”
I get a daily prophecy in my inbox from Prophet Russ Walden over at Father’s Heart Ministries. Today’s prophecy was: “The Father says today that I am raising up a people to radically walk in the law of love. The only way to master the law of sowing and reaping is to ascend into the higher law, the law of love. As you ascend into the law of love you become a lord of the harvest. You will sow into a barren land and reap a bountiful harvest. You will sow in a time of famine and bring back a hundred fold return in the same season. You will see in your life the plowman overtake the reaper and the seed sown produce a harvest before it hits the ground.
This isn't fantasy says the Father. It is the no-fail zone of the love that NEVER fails. If love never fails then why would you ever step out of love. The wisdom of the world rejects this fact. This is the LOVE-FACT says the Father. It is not possible to fail when you live your life according to the law of love. So let love's sowing bring love's reaping and mount up with those wings of favor I have overshadowed you with into the new territory I have annexed you into - even the territory that lords over all small minded selfishness and causes you to think with My mind and love with My heart this day!”  ABOVE QUOTE FROM FATHERS HEART MINISTRIES PROPHET RUSS WALDEN.
This is why Romans 5:1 is so important. This is why the gospel is so important. The gospel alone is the only thing that will bring REAL LOVE for God into the heart of an individual. This is why it must be rehearsed over and over again. This is why no one can ever outgrow their need for hearing the gospel daily. This is why God has given us imputed righteousness. This is why God has separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Yes, it is to produce in us supernatural love… agape love.
This highlights the importance of Deu 28:1. This is the condition for all of the blessings following in Deu 28. One has to somehow fulfill Deu 28: 1. This is where the gospel comes into play. Jesus did fulfill Deu 28:1-2. If I rest in him alone and not any of my works, I will love him… I can’t help but love him, and when I love him as I rest in all that he accomplished on the cross, all that his blood purchased on my behalf. That alone, and NOTHING ELSE, will make me the recipient of the blessings. That is how the Amos prophecy of the plowman overtaking the reaper will come to pass.
Believe the gospel!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Abel a picture of Christ; Cain a picture of religion

Gen 4:1-5 KJV “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, "I have acquired a man from the LORD."  (2)  Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  (3)  And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.  (4)  Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the LORD respected Abel and his offering,  (5)  but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.”

We know from John 5:39-40 and Luke 24:27, 44-45 that the scripture is all about Jesus. Seeing Jesus in the scripture becomes our joy because it reinforces the gospel of God’s mercy, love and grace.  Look at this familiar story from Genesis. Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Able, it is important to see the order in which they came. Cain came first and Abel came second. What does the Apostle Paul tell us? 1Co 15:46 KJV  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. Here we see a principle. The natural comes first and the spiritual comes after. Therefore, it is easy to see that Cain was a picture of the natural and Abel is a picture of the Spiritual. This is important in our seeing Jesus in ALL the scripture. This is a New Covenant way of looking at the scripture. It is not Old Covenant thinking. One of the problems that we face today is we have New Covenant prophecy and Old Covenant theology…. Let me repeat this for effect, “we have New Covenant prophecy and Old Covenant theology.”

Abel simply brought the first born lamb without spot and blemish. It was not from his effort at all. He had nothing to do with it. He simply offered what God had perfected. Cain however, was a tiller of the soil. He worked and toiled and sweat with his hands. He cultivated and watered and no doubt worked long hours. Abel tended the sheep and likely sat in the shade watching them. God grew the grass that fed them and provided the stream that watered them. I’m going somewhere here, pay attention.

Cain had the fruit and vegetables looking good, and all polished as he brought forth to the Lord the work of his hands. He wanted God to accept his good works. Abel on the other hand, simply chose what God had done and offered it to Him. This is really a picture of us. We want to bring to God the fruit of our hands instead of relying on the sacrifice that God made on our behalf. We want to add something to the finished work of Jesus. We refuse to allow our hearts and minds to be cleansed by faith and insist that we bring something of ours. This ends up being an affront to God… a slight to God. When we demand that we bring something to him so that he will reward our performance, no matter what it is, we in a sense are saying that we do not believe that Jesus blood was sufficient.

We need to go back and read the entire chapter of Isaiah 53. Let me pull out some of it. Isaiah 53 is a sovereign decree of God. Isa 53:12 KJV  “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” God says that he will divide Him a portion with the great and that Jesus shall divide the spoil with the strong… strong what? those strong in faith in the finished work of Jesus… those who do not try to add anything, including old covenant obedience to the Law. Our obedience, our giving, our sacrifice, our praise all stems from the finished work of Jesus. He has spoiled the Devil and he will divide the spoils… will we believe???

Isn't it interesting that Cain (religious people) continue to KILL Abel (those trusting in Christ)... how?... they kill their spirits and cast them into bondage of religion.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

prosperity from properly understanding the gospel


There is no doubt that there are many lessons in the parable of the sower. There is one however that can greatly affect how we view the scripture. In the parable of the sower Jesus defines the phrase the word of God. It comes from looking at two parallel accounts of the explanation of the seed in Matthew and Luke.  Let’s look at the explanation from both passages.
Matt 13:18-19 KJV  "Hear then the parable of the sower:  (19)  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path
Luke 8:11 KJV  Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.”
In the Matthew passage, Jesus explains to his disciples that the seed is the word of the kingdom or in other words, the gospel. Luke records him saying that the seed is the word of God. It follows then that in Jesus vocabulary, the gospel of the kingdom and the word of God are synonymous. Actually, we have established this in many other posts in this blog, however, it is instructive to see that the redefining of the phrase word of God came from Jesus himself. Luke’s understanding is that one can substitute the phrase word of God for the gospel of the kingdom. This means that when he thought of the gospel or word of the kingdom, he automatically thought of the word of God. The two phrases become interchangeable.
This becomes very important in defining how the phrase word of God was used in the New Testament writings. For example, when Paul writes: Eph 5:25-27 KJV “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  (26)  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  (27)  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” The gospel is the washing water. Jesus has cleansed the church with the washing of the water of the gospel. This is why the gospel is so important.
It sounds like this should be an ongoing process from the Ephesians five passage. It is the way that we look continually to the cross. The cross is God’s answer for everything. It is his answer for justification, it is his answer sanctification, it is his answer for health, it is his answer for prosperity, and it is his answer for the washing process. When you add anything to the work of the cross you offend God.
So then, if one looks at this passage from Deuteronomy and believes that it is for all the seed of Abraham, both Jew, and Gentile, then one must simply look to the cross for all of the promises that follow because the cross of Christ handled these two passages once for all:
Deu 28:1-2  KJV And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth:  (2)  And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
All of the blessings that follow in Deu 28 will overtake the one who trusts the cross and nothing else. There is nothing else to do. The passage has been handled by the cross. Perhaps one of the reasons that we don’t see more of these blessings is that we are still trying to add to the cross with our effort. That immediately offends God. When will we stop trying to do and just begin to trust?
The person trusting in the cross will give from the love for God just for knowing that Jesus did it all. Real prosperity is found only in the cross.

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The critical importance of context; both historical context and textual consistency

Proof texting is a method of preparing sermons where a text of scripture is pulled out to make a point. In and of itself there is nothing wrong with this. However, proof texting can be misused and often is by those preaching today. If you remove the historical context and the textual consistency then you can make the bible say anything you desire.
 
Here is an example; 1Co 1:21 KJV  “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” There is a specific context to this passage of scripture. It is the foolishness of preaching the gospel that Paul is talking about. So then, if you make the statement that God uses the foolishness of preaching, meaning any preaching one may do about any subject one may choose to quote part of 1Co 1:21 is taking the passage out of its context. First, it is taking it out of its historical context, that is the context within where Paul used it and it is divorcing it from textual consistency.
The greater context of the passage goes from 1Co 1:17 all the way through 1 Co 2:16. It is a passage that explains that the gospel is foolishness to the world and it is the wisdom of God.  Perhaps the most telling of this passage is 1 Co 2:2. Paul states there unequivocally, that during his sojourn as an apostle in Corinth, he determined… purposed… made it a point to know NOTHING among the Corinthian believers than Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  I think that it is safe to assume that he meant the same for his entire ministry to all the Gentiles, and any Jews that he ministered too. One cannot justify the preaching of “just anything” to people by using 1 Co 1:21.
For Paul, it was the preaching of the gospel that was foolishness, and the gospel to Paul was the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Co 15:1-4.) Therefore, any message delivered around the foolishness of preaching must have at its foundation, and heart the gospel of Jesus Christ. It must have a New Covenant understanding at its base.
But further than this, Jesus gave a redemptive context to all the scripture. He said this in John’s gospel. John 5:39-40 KJV  “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.  (40) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” He then reinforced it in Luke 24:27, 44-45. We are  taking the scripture out of context every time we do not find a redemptive theme for what we preach and teach. If it doesn’t point to Jesus and his kingdom… notice I wrote Jesus and His kingdom, then we have no business preaching or teaching it.
We cannot present the New Covenant promises with a strictly Old Covenant mentality and theology. That is what is happening all too often in Christianity today, and quite frankly preachers should sit down sometimes, and learn.  James said it this way; Jas 1:19-20 KJV  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  (20)  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
Our understanding of the message is tainted by two thousand years of theology. We think we have it figured out but, actually just an open minded reading of the scripture will show us that we have much to learn.

 

Monday, August 4, 2014

The yoke that neither we nor our fathers could bear

Act 15:8-11 KJV “ And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;  (9)  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.  (10)  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?  (11) But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”
What was the yoke Peter was speaking of in this passage? Was it circumcision or the Ten Commandments? Was it the dietary laws, the sacrifices? No, it was the sin consciousness that comes from trying to gain righteousness by the law.  Deu 6:25 KJV And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us. Inherent from our first parents, humanity has a sin consciousness that allows us to know that we are separated from God and in need of redemption. It may not be articulated as such but it is at the core of all of our problems. The fact is that no matter how we try, we cannot act good enough to cleans or purify our hearts.  That is what Peter is positing in this speech at the Jerusalem council. He was speaking of those at Cornelius house who received the Holy Spirit by believing what he had preached. When they believed their consciences were cleansed, and that is the same as saying that their hearts were purified. Demanding that circumcision and obedience to the law was necessary for salvation, i.e., reconciliation to God was the yoke.
Why did Paul say that Christ was the end of the law for righteousness in Romans 10:4? It was for this purpose; to ensure that the person, who was saved, was saved by faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, in the grave, and at the resurrection, and nothing else. Yes it is important to list all three aspects of the cross event. It is not just the death, but equally important is the burial and resurrection.  Justification comes to the individual that places trust and hope in the blood of Jesus… trust and hope in the entire cross event. If we would ever, once and for all, take the new covenant view of the law and righteousness, realize that Jesus took away the curses, Jesus made the promises yes, and amen; none of the blessings are commensurate on performance; people would be free to allow the Law to instruct them. It is interesting to me that the word Torah, Hebrew for Law means instruction. Instruction does not mean that it has to be a legal constitutional document. Quite frankly it is not for New Covenant believers.
Yes, the yoke is the sin conscience that is exacerbated by the Law. Verse nine of the above Acts 15 text explains, that by the message Peter preached, the Holy Ghost purified their hearts by faith. That is the same as cleansing the conscience. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: Heb 9:13-15 KJV  “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:  (14)  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  (15)  And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
I want to note here that the word used in cleanse in Hebrews 9:14 and purifying in Acts 15:9 is the exact same word. It is KARTHARIZO. Therefore, it seems obvious that the yoke that Peter was referring to was the yoke that comes from a legal-constitutional reading of the Law.
This is why Jesus said my yoke is easy and my burden is light and why John could say that his commandments were not grievous/burdensome. Jesus took the burden of the yoke upon himself on the cross to purify our conscience, and to rid us of sin consciousness, but the mixture of old covenant-new covenant theology will not allow that to happen. There are so many things that need to be re-examined and rethought.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Smack-dab in the middle of the Bible Belt


Well, I have lived in Memphis for a year and a half now, and reflecting on my new life here I had an epiphany the other day. I was looking at 2 Corinthians 10:4 and I thought about strongholds and fortresses. If you look in NASB, a version that I particularly like, (no it is not perfect, and believe me once you understand just a little Greek, you will know that there is no such thing as a perfect translation, I digress…) Anyway, I used to wonder about the word fortress that is used in many of the new translations. I always thought that stronghold was better. Not so any longer!

Of course, the Greek word, OCHUROMATON (the last two o’s are omegas and not omicrons) means castle or fort so fortress is certainly more correct than stronghold in a literal sense. But until yesterday I preferred stronghold. Thus the epiphany; I believe for good biblical reasons that the strong man that so many folk speak of is none other than Satan himself and his stronghold/fortress is as the demon of religion. That is the strong man.

I suddenly realized that religion has a stronghold in California, a stronghold in Michigan, a stronghold in New York, but here in the Mid South… smack-dab in the middle of the bible-belt it is indeed a fortress!

Stronghold does not begin to adequately describe the hold that the demon of religion has on the bible-belt. If there was ever a place where wooden legalism, devoid  of the Spirit exists, it is here. It saddens me to see that the people of God are so oblivious to it. They seem to get excited about legalism as much as they get excited for the liberating gospel of grace.  Where is the discernment?

It is almost as if Isaiah 29:10-13 is descriptive of the state of evangelicalism in the bible-belt. NASB “For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep, He has shut your eyes, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, the seers.  (11)  The entire vision will be to you like the words of a sealed book, which when they give it to the one who is literate, saying, "Please read this," he will say, "I cannot, for it is sealed."  (12)  Then the book will be given to the one who is illiterate, saying, "Please read this." And he will say, "I cannot read."  (13)  Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,”

The Lamb has opened the sealed scroll. Jesus showed his immediate followers that the scripture was about redemption. It is the redemptive narrative and it is NOT a legal constitutional document. Not for Christ followers at least. It was a legal constitutional document for national Israel in Old Covenant times. No so today!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Small Difference – Huge Distinction Part 3; Faith Working Through Love

What fruit should the Sabbath Rest produce? The answer is love. First and foremost it is a love for God. Faith in the blood of Jesus, faith in having peace with the Father because of the work of Christ, faith that we are indeed the righteousness of God in Christ, faith that we are joint heirs with Christ, faith that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, faith that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, faith that the Father will withhold no good thing from us, faith that we are the people of God—should—produce in us a true love for God.
In other words, our faith... works through God’s love... to produce love in us. Jesus is the ultimate example of allowing faith to work through love. His faith in the Father allowed Him to exercise his love for humanity by accomplishing eternal redemption, salvation, and reconciliation. Christ’s faith worked through God’s love making him willing to endure the cross for our benefit.
This is precisely why religion, which is man trying to gain acceptability to God, is so futile. That scenario is void of faith and love. Rather, it embraces a dependence on what one can accomplish in his or her own strength. The Sabbath Rest, mentioned in part 2 eliminates all of the working toward acceptance. The Sabbath Rest simply accepts. It accepts the work of Christ on our behalf and it accepts the Father’s declaration about us. He declared it before the foundation of the world. Yes, that is absolutely correct. Look at this passage of scripture; Ephesians 1:3-5  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  (4)  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love  (5)  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” It was determined that we would have a Sabbath Rest before creation. This shows beyond doubt that redemption was the first purpose in creation.
Do you hear that? God’s purpose in creation was redemption! Why are the people of God settling for the back seat in so many areas? God wants us to be healthy, prosperous, and at peace. The question is this; will we allow our faith to work through love? Will we allow our faith in God’s love to produce love in us? This is the TRUE transformation process. True transformation only comes from us having a genuine love for God. The only thing that will produce that is redemption from the blood of Jesus Christ.
Our faith needs to be directed to all the great benefits of Christ so that it produces love for God which will translate into supernatural obedience. That is really what the Sabbath rest is all about. God wants us to love and worship Him in Spirit and Truth. The only way that can be accomplished is with the Sabbath Rest, or otherwise resting in Jesus. That is why Jesus said, come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you REST!

Part 1 & Part 2

Monday, April 28, 2014

Small Distinction - Huge Difference Part 2; Need, Rest, and Reasonable Service

The epistle of Romans, Paul’s most extensive doctrinal work, demonstrates a pattern that is instrumental in understanding the proper place of law and grace in the Christian faith. Much of the misunderstanding and doctrinal debate would be eliminated if one properly understands the epistle to the Romans.

How does one really reconcile imputed righteousness and law obedience? After all, aren’t most theological debates about the place of law and grace really a result of people placing emphasis on one or the other? Now, certainly the Romans example alone is not conclusively convincing but in conjunction with Jesus redemptive focus, and the New Testament’s redefining of the phrase word of God from scripture to gospel, one can be fairly certain that the order of Romans goes a long way to establish a uniquely interesting perspective.

Let’s look for a minute at the framework of the epistle of Romans. Romans 1:1 through 3:20 establishes the sinfulness of humanity, and the absolute need for redemption.  Romans 3:21 through 8:39 emphasizes justification by faith and promotes resting in Jesus Christ and his accomplishments. Romans 9:1 through 11:36 is a parenthetical explanation of why God chose to save the Gentiles and allow some Jews to be hardened rejecting the Messiah, and 12:1 through 16:27 discusses the reasonable service due God as a result of his gracious gift of Jesus Christ.

I think it is therefore reasonable to conclude that God’s gospel plan, one that Ephesians chapter one explains was, in the mind of God before he created anything is best framed by three concepts. They are as follows: Need (humanities great need for redemption and forgiveness)-- Rest (humanity can rest in Romans 5:1 and thereby they can rest in Jesus, Hebrews chapter four calls it the Sabbath rest)-- and Reasonable Service (humanities response to such radical grace that made Him who knew no sin to be made sin for humanity so that in turn, humanity could become the righteousness of God in Him.)

The key to proper understanding of the gospel then is this idea of need, rest, and reasonable service. However it must be understood that reasonable service can only truly flow from an acute acknowledgement of need and a totally sound faith in the Sabbath Rest.

To properly understand need one must look at the first and greatest commandment. Here it is: Deuteronomy 6:4-5  "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!  (5)  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. This in and of itself is an impossible command to keep. Even if one could keep all the other’s, which they cannot, one cannot love God with ALL their heart, ALL their soul, with ALL their strength. James tells us that if you break one commandment you break them all (James 2:10.) The case for need is iron clad and no one can escape it.

Romans chapter five, verse one explains that since we have been justified by faith we have peace with God. This is the source of the Sabbath Rest. Peace with God provides the rest and it can only come from resting on the redemptive decrees. Romans chapter five and verse one is one of the many redemptive decrees. Another such decree is Romans 10:9-11; (9) that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  (10)  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  (11)  For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES ON HIM WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME." Paul is not the only source of these decrees. John 3:16-17 is another such decree.
Redemptive decrees are statements that if they are not true as they stand alone they are simply not true at all.  John 3:16 says that whosoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life. Now we will take up the definition of believe later as it is presented in the New Testament, but when the condition of believe is met, it stands as an unalterable decree. Faith is not merely a mental assent. Rather it is best understood as it is presented in the Amplified Bible. It will be presented as trust in, rely on adhere to or cling to.

What happens when I trust in, rely on and cling to Romans 5:1? If I really truly trust in, rely on and cling to the fact that my justification brings peace with God I will naturally rest. Here is an example of John 3:16-17 that shows that I can and should have peace with God and rest.

John 3:16-17 Amplified  “ For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.  (17)  For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
 
The above passage is a classic example of a redemptive decree. It cannot be altered in any way and still be a true statement. The redemptive decrees have precedence over the reasonable service instructions. It can be no other way and have the decrees remain true.

So then, what about the reasonable service instructions? This is where a proper understanding of the transformation process comes into play. Notice that reasonable service is last in the framework. It is last in the epistle of Romans, and it is last in the fruit of the Spirit. Look at Galatians to see the proof 5:22-23. “  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  (23)  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Self-control is the last fruit mentioned and it is for a good reason.

Real self-control comes from the peace with God one gets from resting in Jesus. It comes from the Sabbath Rest. This is the first step in flowing in the blessings of God. All blessings flow from resting in the blood of Jesus.

Read Part 1

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Small Difference – Huge Distinction Part l


What was the point of Paul writing Galatians? Was Augustin, Calvin and Luther right, or are the “New Perspective on Paul” people closer to the truth? My conclusion is that the New Perspective people are definitely not right but, neither are many of those who have adopted the western view of Paul that was championed by Augustin and Luther. The title of this series speaks of nuance, and it seems that nuance is not something that evangelicals work well with. Especially those evangelicals that believe the bumper sticker which reads… “God said it – I believe it – and that settles it.”
The question that is raised is this; is this really what God said? This is the place that nuance comes into play. There is such a variety of evangelical doctrines that are often mutually exclusive. That alone should give pause to the bumper sticker crowd. With this in mind we will boldly move on into the discussion to identify the small difference that makes a huge distinction. What am I specifically speaking of here? The simple answer is the gospel.
Paul writes this in Galatians chapter one: Gal 1:6-9 “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, (7) which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  (8)  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  (9) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” What were these different gospels?
In order to answer this question one has to read through Galatians’ chapters one and two. It becomes obvious in reading Galatians one and two that the different gospel demanded works of the law for justification. Galatians 2:21 states the most important factor in identifying the different and false gospel. It reads: Gal 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” The attribute that identified the true gospel was this. Righteousness *does not* come through the law. That means that one is not made righteous or declared righteous by adhering to the law.
This is precisely why I am so confident that the gospel that is preached today by most evangelicals is a different gospel. While it is true that many, if not most would say that righteousness does not come through obedience to the law, their actual practice negates that statement. This is where the small difference with a huge distinction comes into play. Nuance is the key word that I would use to explain this. It is my hope that this will help us embrace the actual gospel that Paul states was revealed to him by Jesus Christ.
This is the point where many are going to say the word antinomian with an accusatory tone. Hold your horses and wait for this series to be completed. Understand this however; Righteousness does not come through the law.  We do not receive righteousness by our obedience to the law. This is different than Old Covenant righteousness, and that is why the New Perspective people are simply off base. Deu 6:25  “Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the LORD our God, as He has commanded us.” Old Covenant righteousness was connected with obedience to the commandments. Not so under the New Covenant and that is where nuance comes into play. This is the source of the small difference with a huge distinction.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Peace with God Produces the Transformation; Looking at Shalom

 Rom 5:1 NKJV Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
 
Col 1:19-20 NKJV For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, (20) and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

I think that we can learn a lot about what God has done through Jesus Christ by understanding the meaning that God had given the Hebrews for the word Shalom. Peace is far more then an end of hostility and what we normally think of when we hear or say peace. The Strong's definition of Shalom should shed some light on the subject. Here is the definition as it is in the Strong's Lexicon,

 
H7965 shâlôm shâlôm  shaw-lome', shaw-lome' From H7999; safe, that is, (figuratively) well, happy, friendly; also (abstractly) welfare, that is, health, prosperity, peace: - X do, familiar, X fare, favour, + friend, X greet, (good) health, (X perfect, such as be at) peace (-able, -ably), prosper (-ity, -ous), rest, safe (-ly), salute, welfare, (X all is, be) well, X wholly.

Shalom has a far more holistic meaning than one would think. It includes safety, welfare, health, prosperity, peace etc. So then, one can rightly conclude that Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have safety, welfare, health, prosperity and peace with God." And, likewise, Col 1:20 says "and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made us safe, healthy, prosperous, at peace through the blood of His cross."
 
So then, when Paul says that Jesus *is our peace* he means that Jesus is our Shalom which is our safety, welfare, health, prosperity and peace. This precious gift and status is the source for all of the transformation that happens in the life of a saint.  However, to have this transformation really take place supernaturally, one has to understand and believe this concept. This is the source of love for God that translates into the desire to obey Him. There is more to say on this and we will develop the idea in subsequent posts.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Faith cometh by hearing


Many of the blog posts here have been devoted to proving that Jesus and his first century followers changed the meaning of the phrase word of God from Torah to gospel. Jesus taught a uniquely redemptive purpose to the scripture. This is plainly proclaimed in John 5:39-40 and Luke 24:27; 43-45. In the past, I have issued a challenge, to take all of the verses in the New Testament with the phrase word of God in them, and to substitute either scripture or gospel in place of the phrase. When one does that it is easy to see that their meaning in using the phrase was gospel or Jesus the living gospel and not scripture. Again, please do not think that I am downplaying the scripture or its inspired status. I am not. I am rather showing the extent that Jesus taught his followers to go to in emphasizing and underscoring the redemptive purpose of the scripture.
With this in mind let’s turn our attention to Romans 10:17. In the KJV it reads, “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” So then, let me ask the question; did Paul mean that faith cometh by hearing scripture or gospel? Well, when you look at it in context it becomes rather obvious that he meant the gospel. The sentence could easily be stated that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the gospel of Christ.

Let’s take a look at this verse in some of the new versions of the scripture.

NASB “Rom 10:17  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

HCSB “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the

message about Christ.”

ESV “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” 

Why is that so? The answer is that there are a number of original Greek texts from which the translations are made, and further there are many variations within those texts. Some say word of God and some say word of Christ. The Byzantine Text or Textus Receptus which the KJV was translated from says word of God, but the Westcott Hort and the Nestle-Aland say word of Christ.  The Greek is as follows: It is the rhematos christou (word of Christ) or the (rhematos theou) the word of God.
         When one realizes that the first century apostles meant the gospel or the word of Christ when they wrote word of God it becomes less of a problem. The newer versions call it the word of Christ because the translating scholars believe that it is far more likely that the original scripture had the word of Christ in Romans 10:17. I believe that the original text could have had the word of God there but I have proven beyond doubt that in most cases in the New Testament, and in ALL cases from the book of Acts forward they meant gospel or Jesus the living gospel when they wrote the phrase word of God.
It does have interesting implications that go against the common explanation of this verse. Faith does not come from hearing just any ole scripture passage. Faith comes by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since rhematos (a variation of rhema) more rightly means spoken word, it would suggest that faith cometh by hearing the spoken word of Christ.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Accuser of the Brethren

Rev 12:10-12  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night.  (11)  They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death.  (12)  Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time."
One of the most debilitating phenomena that today’s saint faces is the accusations of the accuser of the brethren (brothers and sisters.) Yes, Satan is the consummate accuser. He uses the past to accuse us of shame and guilt. He uses the future to accuse us with fear.  Isn’t that something? We are ashamed of the past and we fear the future. That is why we should participate only in contemplating our now (present.) It is in the present that we can overcome the accuser by the blood of the lamb. It is something that can only be done in the now… now faith… now is the day of salvation. Salvation, redemption and sanctification always exist in the now.
The key to overcoming Satan, the accuser is applying the blood of the Lamb in the now. It is blood for every now. It is blood that was ordained before the foundation of the world. Think on that for a minute… before the foundation of the world. There are but a few passages of scripture that mention before the foundation of the world. These describe a time before anything was created. We ALWAYS find that these references are linked to redemption. In Ephesians 1:4 it mentions redemption, and in 1 Peter 1:18-20 it speaks of the blood of the Lamb that was purposed before the foundation of the world. That can only mean one thing. Redemption through the blood of the Lamb was God’s purpose in creation. He tells us of NOTHING else before the foundation of the world. How should that change our thinking? How should that make us view God’s love? How much peace should that engender?
Notice what it says in verse 12 of the above quoted passage from Revelation.   Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time.” Heaven Dwellers… that is not just those in heaven; I believe that it also includes those seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Where is our minds focused? Are we focused on the earth and the past and are we dreaming of the future? That focus is perfect for the accuser. He works with that focus. However, if we shift our minds to the reality that we are NOW seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, our focus makes it difficult for the accuser to mess with us.
Part one: More to come on this topic…

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Opening the scroll



Rev 5:6-9 NLT  “Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.  (7)  He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the One sitting on the throne.  (8)  And when He took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God's people.  (9)  And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For You were slaughtered, and Your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
There is a direct correlation between the above passage and the following one:
Luke 24:44-45 NLT  “Then He said, "When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled."  (45) Then He *opened their minds* to understand the Scriptures.”
Jesus had a specific way of looking at the scripture. He saw it as expressing his purpose and destiny. It is only in seeing the scripture as Jesus sees it that one can have the scripture opened. It is only opened when Jesus and the redemption that he brings is the sole focus of the scripture. All scripture must be viewed with the understanding that Jesus is Lord and Christ and the sole purpose of the scripture.
Paul puts it another way in this passage: 2Co 3:14-16 NRSV  “But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside.  (15)  Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds;  (16)  but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” Notice that the veil is only removed with a Christ-centered approach to reading and understanding the scripture.
That is one of the main obstructions to revelation knowledge today in the church. To really truly understand the scripture in the way that it was meant one must see the redemptive gospel focus. The passage that I quoted above from second Corinthians ends with an explanation of the ministry of reconciliation. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself not counting trespasses. He made Jesus who knew no sin to be made sin for sinful humanity so that reconciled humanity could be the righteousness of God in Christ and be at peace with God.
Peace with God is the most important aspect of truly loving God. The Shema, Deu 6:4-6 NRSV  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  (5)  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.  (6)  Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.” Jesus said that this was the first and greatest commandment. i.e, loving God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might.
This commandment can only be fulfilled when one is set at peace with God because of the grace found in Jesus Christ. The scripture will only be opened when one understands the gospel of grace in its fullness and ties all the reading and teaching and preaching to it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Concise Statement of the Biblical Redemptive Narrative



What is the gospel? The question is based upon the observation that Jesus and his first century followers that wrote the New Testament redefined the phrase word of God to mean either the gospel or, Jesus the living gospel from the book of Acts forward. Assuming that the apostolic writings meant gospel in using the phrase word of God it is very reasonable to try to understand what they meant by that. I further believe that it is reasonable to see the gospel as being the reader’s digest version of the redemptive narrative.
Ephesians 1:4 states that this gospel purpose was birthed before the foundation of the world, and therefore, is the first consideration of God in creation. The wording of Paul in Ephesians 1:3-14 must lead to the conclusion that redemption was the first purpose of creation. There is nothing in the biblical narrative that predates this other than John 1:1-5. John 1:1 states in the beginning (en arche) and assumes that God, and His Word were there prior to Ephesians 1:4. However, Ephesians 1:4 et.al. explains the purpose set forth in creation.
With this in mind, one of the most concise statements of the biblical narrative is Paul’s in 2 Corinthians 5. (2Co 5:18-21 NRSV)  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;  (19)  that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.  (20)  So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  (21)  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The thrust of the gospel narrative that we are responsible to deliver is simply that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, making the one who knew no sin to be made sin for us, that we in turn might become the righteousness of God in Him. We are to exhort people to be reconciled to God. The redemptive narrative is the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, we are to exhort people to understand they are at peace with God because of Christ (Rom 1:5.)
This peace with God exists so that we might love God with all our heart, soul, and might. The love for God will promote our ability to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are prompted in our minds to ask about whom our neighbor might be, we are given the parable of the Good Samaritan. Our neighbor may well be someone who hates us.
Likewise, peace with God will be the catalyst for obedience to God. All of the commandments are encapsulated in the idea that we will love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It will only flow from true peace with God which the writer of Hebrews expressed as the Sabbath Rest (Hebrews 4:1-11.)